Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Motherhood


For some people, having a child is like coming home. It's like feeling as if everything is finally in place, comfortable, normal--the way it's supposed to be. 

For myself, having children has been like traveling to the far reaches of the world. Exciting! Alluring! Novel! 

And then the reality hit: I don't speak this language, everything is confusing, nothing works the way I'm used to it working, and I'm tired and homesick. And during the first four months after Tate's birth, I found myself frequently folded over a toilet bowl (but instead of having giardia, I had a malfunctioning gallbladder). 

I try not to come to this whiny place often. When I feel myself getting homesick for my former life--the life where no one depended on me and I had complete jurisdiction over my time and space--I focus on the immense gratitude that I feel for having had the privilege of giving birth to two healthy boys. I am overwhelmed by that opportunity. I consider it nothing short of a miracle nearly every single day. 

But it's a battle for sure. The day-to-day can be so! darn! hard! I want to be reading or writing or running or doing yoga or sewing or making a template or producing a podcast or pulling together a birthday present for a friend or talking to my mom or planning our next vacation or sleeping in or watching a movie. And instead I am helping a three year-old look for his shoes because he took them off to play in his tent and forgot to put them in his basket by the door. Or I'm trying to wipe poop off a ten month-old's butt who clearly doesn't want to be undergoing that experience either. Or I'm fighting the urge to curl up in an exhausted ball on the bed instead of finishing the dishes.  

And the whole time I'm trying to project patience and positivity and calm and caring. And inside I'm not feeling any of those things! I'm feeling impatient and frustrated and selfish. 

I don't regret having children at all. Not even a little bit. And I don't regret deciding to have two, even though I know our lives would be so much easier with one right now. But I just need to take this moment to acknowledge how hard it is. To give myself permission to feel all the horrible things I feel on the inside and to celebrate how amazingly committed I am to channeling it into positive interactions with my children on the outside. 

And I'm saying it aloud in case any of you feel something similar. Parenting is frequently such a hard, thankless job. I'm looking forward to the time when Tate will regularly sleep through the night and when my boys' schedules and play preferences sync up a bit more. Maybe 16 months will bring a huge shift just like it did with Henry? 

In the meantime, I'm just going to have to vent from time to time and then fall back on my mantra: "Let's be grateful." 



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12 comments:

Allyson said...

Sara, thank you! Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one feeling like this (and that it's so wrong to feel this way). I get it. I just really, really get this post. Sometimes I feel like I cannot WAIT for bedtime so that I can just breathe and do something that *I* want to do. I often wonder if I'm being selfish and ungrateful. It's just hard. Really, really hard. Thank you for the little reminder to be grateful and more positive with my interactions. It can be so easy to get lost in the sea of things I need to accomplish before the next day when I really need to be focusing myself on my daughter and slowing down.

Thank you.

P.S. I dread the dishes too. :)

Kelsey said...

I miss my free time so much, too and also feel these same feelings. Parenthood can be so hard! It is hard to feel productive after a day of flung food and meltdowns. And I have weekends where I say to Chris, "remember how it used to be that we could just lay on the couch ALL DAY and watch movies." That seems so foreign now.

I think in a few years we will look back and see that this was the hardest time, when Dash is SO dependent on us. In 3 years he'll be playing outside by himself while I cook dinner and listen to a podcast, we can have family movie nights, go on car trips where he's not crying in his carseat :) I think it will just continue to get better and that the balance of time will shift back towards us a little bit. Thank for for expressing all of this.

becca117 said...

Thanks Sara for voicing these feelings. The first lines of your post resonated with me "motherhood feels like coming home", as I know it is what I am meant for and I soak up every second. But I also miss my me time. I miss being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want.
My husband has been amazing though in recognizing how much more I have given up than him and often when he can tell I need it he tells me to just go do whatever I want (which is usually sleep since our baby is only 4 months at the moment and not sleeping through the night). Those few moments are amazing and recharge me to keep on conquering. It is like eating strawberry ice cream because you love it but knowing that chocolate ice cream is really amazing too. We can't have both worlds, but either way we win. :)

Anthropolochic said...

Thanks for saying this. I am feeling grossly overwhelmed right now. So much happening, all high stakes and no one is around. I've found myself longing for my pre-child life. Not a life without my child, but the life I had before we moved immediately before having a child. Since the move and everything changing, I haven't really lived a life that involves me in any way…if that makes sense. It's been about the child, the job, various federal interactions and endless cleaning. We don't have a support system where we are, and we are feeling very lonely and overtasked. In this exhaustion I'm not sure we are doing the best by our little one.

And we are trying for a second, which is stressful as well.

All of this to say, I identify with what you are saying here and I am very happy you said it out loud. I think, in the thick of this period when many people have their children, many big life changes tend to happen and tends to be career-heavy it is really easy to be surrounded by other parents experiencing the same thing and feel exhausted and alone. It's kind of silly, because we would all be better off talking about how we feel and offering help to one another. Just know that there are others feeling this way, and that we are happy you have typed those feelings here.


Kristy said...

Thanks so much for sharing Sara. I love your honesty. It can be so hard to put these feelings out there. I've felt the exact same way on a number of occasions. It seems to come in waves. With our oldest son now 6, it really helps to put things into perspective that the difficult toddler years feel long but they'll soon pass. I've realized how much I enjoy having a 6 year old and how much more pleasant our interactions are than the toddler years were for me. I feel like I'm nailing it as a mom to my 6 year old and 2 month old but falling short sometimes as a mother to my 3 year old. Yet, I have friends who absolutely loved the toddler years. Recently I've come to think that as mothers we all have different strengths. The toddler years are particularly hard for me so I'm trying to accept help from family and friends whenever I can to help make things smoother. Be kind to yourself. The people that matter aren't judging.

triciaco25 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
triciaco25 said...

Sarah,
Your honesty speaks to so many, including me. There are those days where I feel like, "I got this!" And then there are those days, sometimes the same day, where I want to run to somewhere quiet and curl up and SLEEP. As if! I probably wouldnt be able to sleep anyways! Interesting differences you hear from families who have a village to lend a hand those that dont. We fall in the latter category. A family member actually told me that she and her partner were perturbed with Jeff and I for not making efforts to hang out with them! And they had contributed so little. My mantra...it sounds grim at first, but keep an open mind... This, my friend, this is the trenches. And it IS temporary. Love you.

Sasha-Ingenue said...

First and foremost... the photo at the top of this post is breathtaking - I have come back to your blog 3x in the past 2 days just to look at that picture. You and Tater are perfect.
As a new mother with a nearly 7 (!!!) month old baby, I have NO idea how people function with two children. We know we want another one, and I know once we have two kids we'll figure out just like you guys have. But oh. my. god. It is so hard. It is immeasurably wonderful, a labor of love for certain. But holy shit it sucks so much out of us. Literally and figuratively. Thanks for having the guts to put yourself out there... again. Sending a big empathetic hug your way.

Vanessa Calkins said...

Thank you for such an honest post. I am a new mom (my son is almost 7 months) and sometimes I feel horrible for truly missing my free time. I don't like going up that "whiny place" either but I firmly believe there is value in all our feelings and you wrote yours (all of ours...) with grace here. I heard about your blog from Kelsey and Erica's podcast and am so glad I stopped by! �� (And as it turns out, I devoured $2000 Wedding back in the day and hadn't made the connection).

may said...

yes, yes yes! We don't have to pretend that it's always easy or fun in order to be grateful. We can do both. The fact that parenting is HARD, and sometimes boring, and sometimes aggravating doesn't make it any less amazing...thank you.

Amanda said...

Thanks for your honesty! Motherhood is the most exhausting thing I've ever done, and I'm thrilled when people acknowledge that truth. Prayers for selflessness and peace!

J-Law said...

I appreciate your honesty and totally feel you! As women it's so common to feel like we need to keep it all together and always do things with a smile. I always remind myself that I'm only human so these experiences and feelings are a natural part of being human. It takes some of the pressure off. I appreciate this post, thanks for sharing.

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